Michael Shannon Sees The Lesson From Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Shooting: ‘This Is What Happens When You Lowball And Cut Corners’

As a veteran screen actor who has worked with firearms on everything from big-budget films to indie productions, Michael Shannon was recently asked to share his insights on the fatal shooting on the set of Rust that has resulted in Alec Baldwin being charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

While talking to The Chicago Tribune, Shannon makes it a point to say that he’s not “condemning Alec,” but he does have harsh words for the producers. (Baldwin is an executive producer on the film.)

“This is what happens when you lowball and cut corners and hire people that may not be qualified,” Shannon said. “And pay them next to nothing, and make the movie on the cheap.”

After calling out the concerning trend of safety protocols being tossed to the wayside to cut production costs, Shannon detailed what he believes caused the “cataclysmic event” on the set of Rust:

When you’re rehearsing a scene with a gun in it, and you’re on set, the gun you’re given almost always is not a gun. It’s a rubber replica. Maybe a plastic one. It is not a firearm. (Video of Baldwin rehearsing a cross-draw before filming a scene from “Rust” reveals the actor with his finger on or near the trigger of the weapon that ultimately killed Hutchins.) That’s what you have during any sort of rehearsal or walk-through, right up until you’re figuring out the shot, and what your firing line will be, all of that. You shouldn’t have the actual weapon in your hand until immediately before doing the take.

Now, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes they’ll give you the actual gun to rehearse with a little closer to filming. But there’s a procedure for that. They open the barrel. They show you there’s nothing in there. They show you the chambers, they show the assistant director, and it’s a visual confirmation. The AD’s supposed to check it, the actor checks it and the armorer has checked it. All three of those people have to see there’s nothing in there. And then they hand it to you.

With “Rust,” before that gun went into his hand, (Baldwin) should have seen with his own eyes there was nothing in it.

While continuing to point the finger at cost-cutting measures, Shannon ultimately puts the blame on the producers for hiring an inexperienced armorer.

“Being an armorer is a hard job, a demanding job, and I have nothing but respect for them,” Shannon said. “But in this instance, it was going into the ER and finding out your doctor isn’t a real doctor.”

(Via The Chicago Tribune)